Polymer Clay the Easy Way

4. Condition and reduce a pre-made cane(s). Cut off several slices of the original size cane. Reduce cane slightly. Cut off several more slices. Repeat this step at least two more times so you’ll have a variety of slice sizes to work with. Or you can work with several canes depending on how many campers are making this project.

5. Starting at the top of the pen, begin to place cut slices onto the plastic pen outer body. Work with only 2-3 slices at a time. With clean fingertips, press slice firmly to the plastic and the warmth of your hand will also spread the cane slice. Occasionally roll the pen body to your work surface to smooth the joined slices. Repeat until entire pen body is covered.

6. Make sure the bottom opening of the pen body is clear. Cut away any clay that covers this opening or you’ll never be able to slide the pen tip back into the pen.

7. Line baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil.

8. Place beads onto aluminum foil making sure individual pens don’t touch.

9. Bake for time listed on packaging label (usually 30-45 minutes).

10. Allow pens to cool. Slide pen tip back into pen.

11. Depending on how much you reduce a cane, one cane can cover 1-2 pens.

11. Use these same steps to place sliced canes onto inexpensive glass candle holders that aren’t just for tea candles, but are also a great holder for your new pens!

Polymer Clay Tips

• Rub a dab or small amount of Vaseline into your hands before you start working with the clay. The Vaseline keeps your hands clean and helps conduct the heat from your hands to the clay.

• Always start with a clean work surface. The clays pick up dust and other odds and ends from the work surface. These “extras” can affect the surface and finish of the clay.

• There are wonderful cutting, shaping and design tools on the market for polymer clays, but don’t forget that toothpicks, paper clips, cookie cutters and pencils are handy tools too.

• If you’re looking for non-stick surfaces, don’t overlook old Formica cabinet doors or ceramic tiles.

• One of the keys to successful handmade canes is allowing the canes to rest overnight after each reduction. Don’t be in a hurry when making a detailed cane.

• Warm hands by sitting on them or placing hands on a heating pad while working with the clays.

• Store clay and canes in airtight containers like a zip-lock plastic bag. Canes can also be wrapped in wax paper or freezer paper. Keep odds and ends scraps for other projects.

• Yes, different brands of clay can be mixed together, but no one will guarantee the results!

• The best temperature for baking the clays is always listed on packaging labels. Different brands recommend different temperatures and baking times. Never heat oven over recommended degrees from manufacturer. It is better to use a low temperature and longer baking time than to burn the clay in your oven.

• If you’re serious about working with polymer clays, invest in a pasta machine or a food processor just for working and kneading the clays. Once the clay has been used in the machine, the machine (and any other tool you use when working with the clay) can no longer be used in food processing. However, the machines will cut down on kneading time and help save hand stress.

Maria Nerius has been designing and writing craft projects for 15 years and is the craft expert at CreateForLess.com. If you have questions, comments, have craft ideas of your own, or would like to see a particular craft in an upcoming issue, e-mail Maria at mnerius@cfl.rr.com.

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